A holistic approach to chronic illness with diet and lifestyle

Originally posted 28th Sep 2021

Most of you have read the story of how Handmade Naturals was born. In a way, it is my personal story, the story of mine and my daughter’s skin troubles many years ago. As it goes in life, one thing, such as a skill, an experience, a discovery or a knowledge often leads you to another and it shapes your journey in life. It isn’t a question of merely getting from A to B, and then remaining stationary for the rest of your life. It is about constantly expanding your horizons and opening yourself to knowledge and new experiences to become a better version of you. I’m naturally a very inquisitive person, just thirsty for knowledge, for understanding how everything works. Maybe not everyone is like me, but you don’t have to be, it’s what makes us unique. I’m ready to share another personal story, one that has been shaping my own journey in the past few years and I’m nowhere near the final destination…

I’ve always loved cooking and baking, even before Handmade Naturals, and perhaps it was my cooking skills that made it possible for the brand to get off the ground. I always thought I was a healthy eater, always striving to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and lean protein, dairy for calcium, fish for omegas, you know the script. Turns out the script is somewhat flawed. Skewed perhaps. 

In early 2018 my health (normally non problematic) suddenly took a turn for the worst. Many months and numerous tests later it was discovered that I had a structural abnormality in my pancreas, which lead to acute and subsequently chronic inflammation for which there is no cure. Even though my diet didn’t directly cause my condition (the doctors couldn’t find the cause and it is still the big unknown) I was left in a constant state of inflammation with nothing but pain relief medication and the possibility of a major surgery. I started looking for holistic ways to improve my health situation. Unfortunately, due to the constant inflammation my cancer risk is increased by over 50% and pancreatic cancer is no joke. I don’t want to bore you with the details, I mention it just to give a little background as to what prompted me to take a step back and evaluate everything.

Stress is always considered a trigger, for most conditions. I’m a working mum but HN isn’t a stressful environment, I really love my job and the working environment we have. As I already am regularly practicing yoga and meditation, there wasn’t really that much I could do to improve things stress wise.

I then looked into supplements and discovered goldenseal root. It is a natural anti inflammatory, a super healing herb with antibiotic and antiviral activity which boosts your immune system to help your body fight infections. I’ve been taking it for 3 years now and I have not had a single cold. Perhaps it has also helped reduced the severity of my condition. In either case, goldenseal root is a supplement I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone.

My research then lead me to anti inflammatory diets, looking into foods which cause and/or aggravate inflammatory conditions (eczema, psoriasis, acne and many other). I was determined to find something to help me as no help was offered by the medical profession. Many books and published researches later I learned that all animal protein (from meat, dairy, seafood and eggs) contains dietary acids and the digestion of these proteins releases chemicals in the body which accumulate over time and have been linked to inflammation and even cancer. Not to mention the saturated fat and cholesterol contained within, which has negative impact on your cardio vascular and even brain health. Meat also happens to be full of oestrogen, antibiotics and in the case of dairy (namely the milk proteins whey and casein), high amounts of the growth factor known as IGF1, which makes things grow, not only muscles but also cells, including tumour cells.  Both whey and casein have been identified as carcinogens (the book THE CHINA STUDY ), along all red and processed meats such as bacon, sausages and cured meats. I recommend you all watch the movies THE GAME CHANGERS, SEASPIRACY and COWSPIRACY on Netflix and the FORKS OVER KNIVES movie, and read the books THE STARCH SOLUTION by John McDougall MD and THE PLANT POWER DOCTOR by Dr Gemma Newman. 

All eye opening and completely life changing! I was not a huge meat eater, never a junk or take away eater but the more I read and watched, the clearer it became in my head that the only way forward, both for my health, the animals and the environment and the planet (now that’s a subject for another blog!) was to adopt a fully plant based diet. 

As I mentioned, there is no cure for my particular condition, the aim is to keep the inflammation within my body to a bare minimum, but cutting out all alcohol and added oils and eating whole foods is 110% helping me remain super healthy despite my digestion issues. Eating this was has considerably reduced the painful episodes, has also given me an even clearer complexion and an amazing feel good factor that I’m no longer harming other living beings, nor am I any longer contributing to the environmental disaster the governments worldwide seem unable to address. Whole foods plant based diet has helped thousands of people worldwide reverse insulin resistance/diabetes, heart conditions and inflammatory diseases and regain their health. Just some food for thought, especially if you are already experiencing health issues. 

There is unfortunately no clear cut when it comes to nutrition. There are so many advocates of eating this way or that way, and to be fair a lot of research is skewed to suit the agenda of whoever is funding it. For me it was important to change to something that was nourishing and restorative for my health and ditching animal protein in favour of whole foods with no added oil seems to fit the bill perfectly, and most importantly it it is working. I no longer have inflammation raging through my body and the painful episodes are rare occasions, not the norm. I still remember the days of not being able to leave home without pain pills as I didn't know when it would strike again.Anyway this is the current path my journey has taken. It may resonate with some of you, or may not. And that’s okay. 

If you want to be part of my journey, you can follow me for healthy cooking, food ideas and inspiration via my Instagram account @rossicart but I’ll also post a few recipes here to give you a taster of the simple changes you can make to your baking so that you can all have your cake and eat it.  

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